For many people, Christmas can be a time of increased worry and stress. Statistics show that it is actually detrimental for the mental health of at least a quarter of people living in the UK with the main factors being financial concerns, having to entertain guests and trying to keep everyone happy. That is a lot of pressure and so it is little wonder that people feel so overwhelmed at this time of year. The Samaritans receive tens of thousands of calls over the festive season including Christmas Day which gives a glimpse into the desperation that people are feeling. Unfortunately the idea of the perfect Christmas bombards social media, television and magazines so that many feel a huge pressure to try and reenact something that is almost impossible. The mental health charity Mind, very recently revealed alarming statistics that shows that 6% of those living in England and Wales have considered ending their lives because of financial pressure.
I am sure that if it was possible, many people would choose to fully ‘opt out’ of Christmas and then ‘opt back in’ when it was all over, thus saving themselves a few days of needless spending. If you are planning on spending money this Christmas then there are a few ways that you can ease the financial burden on yourself.
Many people have an overdraft which can be useful. An overdraft allows you to borrow up to a limit based on your requirements and personal circumstances and agreed with the bank beforehand. It is recommended that overdrafts are only used for emergencies or as a short term option. Banks vary with their rules on overdrafts with some offering free overdrafts up to a certain amount. However, usually you have until the end of the day to pay money into your account to avoid daily arranged overdraft interest for that day. For example, an overdraft of £250 at a well known high street bank would charge 27p per day and if you had the overdraft at this amount for 30 days ( until your next pay day), it would cost you an extra £8.46 in total. This way of borrowing can be useful if it is a one off arrangement and you know that you can pay it back.
Staying on the subject of banking, there are several lucrative deals around that are offering up to £200 cash to you if you switch bank accounts. They offer various financial incentives in addition to the cash, many of which are guaranteed to be paid out before or just after Christmas, which include 0% overdrafts, good rates on your savings and free cinema tickets. These are a great way to give your finances a kick start and to make a few hundred pounds in the process.
Similarly, many credit card companies offer great deals. You can cut interest with a balance transfer card, spread the cost of Christmas with a 0% spending card or get points to spend or extra cash with a reward credit card. These can be fantastic ways to manage money but only if used wisely!
Sometimes, at times such as Christmas, it may be felt necessary to spend money that isn’t there. Before doing so, you must ensure that you have researched all the small print of any deals you are taking advantage of along with having devised your own unique budget planner. It is unwise to get into any kind of significant or long term unmanageable debt. Accumulating any kind of Christmas debt can lead to extra strain and may impact on your ability to afford essential expenses. Prioritise your own financial and mental well being over temporary indulgences and do not be afraid to set firm boundaries with others.